As winter approaches and the clocks prepare to go back, so it’s traditionally time to start thinking about candidates for Car of the Year.
Now, you don’t have to look far to discover there are actually quite a few COTYs up and running these days, and that’ s just in the UK. All doing a fine and honourable job, no doubt, but here’s one that’s a bit different and it’s called AutoBest.
AutoBest is a Car of the Year award originating in Eastern Europe. With a fixed price limit of 17,000 Euros, the aim has been to find the ‘Best Buy Car of Europe’. Looking at all aspects (design, dynamics, space, rationality and so on) to reach a decision close to that of a real world mainstream buyer, you come up with a short list.
A top five comes together. Jurors get together to the test the cars, then a winner is announced. To give you an idea, the current holder of AutoBest 2015 is the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa. Before that, it was the Hyundai i10 and Ford B-Max….stretching back to the Skoda Fabia in the original AutoBest awards in 2001.
This September, at the Frankfurt Show, the AutoBest jury list expanded into mainland Europe, as it were. New judges were appointed in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, France, Spain as well as here in the UK, with myself nominated for the latter role.
At the same time, the price limit has been raised to 20,000 euros, before tax, and it’s been interesting to see which cars make the cut and which don’t. As a general rule, to qualify a model must be on sale across the majority of EC markets, as of January 2016 and come within that 20,000 Euro price limit.
Response from the industry to date has been enlightening. While some manufacturers have actively embraced the AutoBest concept, some other (quite obvious) candidates have greeted the latest announcements with silence. Let’s see what happens…
Overall, though, the response has been positive as AutoBest is clearly something well defined, bringing something new and fresh to the table.